Jamal Smith claims he had no intention of becoming skateboarding’s first viral star, but now 10 years after the legendary “Tornado Spin” video’s initial release, he seems to have made a habit of this sort of thing without really trying. Over the last decade, just by being his goofy, high-ass self, he’s made numerous videos that have gotten tons of skateboarders close to dying from laughter.
Most recently, Jamal was meme-ified and spread across Twitter to late night cable shows on Comedy Central. We knew it was funny to us, but we didn’t think whole world would eventually be quoting him as well. With that in mind, I rolled a spliff, called him up and tried to get him to explain how he continues to finds ways to make the Internet go crazy. Forgive us if it’s a little incoherent.
Yooo, what are you up to man?
I’m looking up pictures on Google of goats, cause people keep calling me a goat, so I’m trying to make the connection. I got a selfie up and a goat, and I don’t get it… these goats got crazy ass eyes man, my eyes are beautiful. I don’t look like that. [laughs]
You have a history of being big on the Internet, starting with when you did the Tornado Spin 10 years ago. Back then were skaters recognizing you often?
In ’06 or ’07 when I put that video out, for the longest time it didn’t have any views or anything, it was just kind of chillin’, but then Crailtap picked it up and people were really going crazy about it. I couldn’t even really comprehend how well received it was cause I was in Ithaca, a little college town in the middle of Upstate New York with only maybe like 20 skaters in the town.
I kind of just thought nothing of it until I moved to Philly when I was 18. That’s when people were just bugging out like, “Holy shit! You’re the fucking Tornado Spin, eating cereal-ass nigga!” That’s when I was like, oh fuck. It was bigger than just on the Internet, I guess. I was 16, 17, the Internet was just starting to really pop off. I didn’t think it would really have any lasting power.
There’s definitely kids these days that try to make it via YouTube as a personality. What are your thoughts on people taking that approach to try and make it in skateboarding?
I mean, honestly… It can go both ways. It’s kind of corny and it’s kind of sick. It really just depends on the person and how they’re going about it.
I’ve seen some dudes on YouTube with podcasts that are sick where they just discuss skateboarding with their homies. I’m like word, that’s sick. Open conversations about skateboarding? That’s not something I had available when I was young. But then you see fools that are trying to turn themselves pro or get mad followers or subscribers so they can make some bread off of views and it’s like, “What the fuck are you doing? Nigga, just get a job…” [Laughs] I get it, but dawg, that’s not what skateboarding is for.
I heard Palace picked you up pretty much just off recognition of the Tornado Spin. How’d that happen?
It was just a random day in like 2013 or so, I was just talking shit on Twitter and I had just started following Lucien Clarke and I hit him up. I was like, “Yo, you niggas need to get Palace shit in Philly, I’m trying to cop.” Not even asking to get on, I just fucks with it. I wished I had the option to buy it if it was available, and he just @’d me and Palace’s Twitter, and the fools hit me back with “Send us your size and address, we got you.”
Since then, they’ve just been hooking it up, and I was so confused for the longest time, dude. I thought it was just some homie shit, just because they fuck with the Tornado Spin video, but I didn’t wanna ask because that’s just some noob shit to be like, “So uh, hey, am I sponsored by you guys?” I was just like, “Fuck, what do I do?” So I just kept skating.
At the time, I was just making beats. I wasn’t even putting out skate footage. I was filming for Sabotage a little bit, but for the most part I was just working. I knew Palace was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. It was my favorite skate company. Between them and Hopps at the time. That was my inspiration to even come back to this shit because for the longest time I was just like, fuck skateboarding. The whole sponsorship shit, it’s so much unneeded stress, but these dudes don’t give a fuck. It’s the best situation.
How long have you been making beats for?
I had been making music since the Tornado Spin video but I hadn’t taken it seriously until about 2012, cause that’s when Soundcloud started popping off. I got addicted to that shit. It was just like skateboarding. The way that a skateboarder looks at spots… you know when somebody has done a trick somewhere already so you avoid doing that trick. That’s kind of how flipping a sample is with the beats that I make. I look at the sample like a spot. I don’t care if somebody else has sampled it, I’m just going to sample it differently. I’m not going to do the same tricks that other mothafuckas be doing. You gotta apply that original mindset that skateboarding has, just be yourself. At least that’s how I feel, cause nowadays a lot of people just do the same shit.
When you see your crush and her boyfriend together pic.twitter.com/Q5ZWvbfUpc
— loser ass nigga (@frenchtoastpapi) September 18, 2016
You recently just had another video go viral.. how did that happen?
[Clicks tongue] Fuck! I have no clue. This whole shit is so confusing. It was filmed as a promo for my game of SKATE versus Wade Desarmo in the Dime Glory Challenge. I knew skateboarders would like the video. It was well received and everyone was quoting it when they’d see me and whatever, but as soon as it got taken out of context, I didn’t expect any of that shit. Dude, I don’t even know. What was the question again? I’m high as fuck…
[Laughs] Why do you think it took so long for people to catch on?
Oh! Because niggas be sleeping! I feel like normal America has to wait for someone to force feed them some tight shit before they appreciate it. Skateboarders are always on the forefront of that shit. And it was made for skateboarders, it’s not really something I was trying to present to fuckin’ random ass firefighters and bankers, I was doing it for skateboarding. That’s the main reason; it wasn’t made for everybody else.
”I feel like normal America has to wait for someone to force feed them some tight shit before they appreciate it.”
Where did you first see it get attention?
Twitter, really. Somebody @’d me in a tweet, that had trimmed out a section of my video and the dude added a caption: “When you see your crush and her boyfriend together”. It had 1,000 retweets and 1,000 likes and I instantly just saw the future. I was like, “No, this is gonna become a meme.” Literally the next day it had like 40,000 retweets and like 65,000 likes. I knew it was going to be [DJ Khaled voice] another one.
Any chicks start DMing you?
This chick on Tinder just hit me up being like, yo I just saw your meme. But I haven’t ate no butt from it so I’m still waiting for it. We’ll see what happens, though. I got some things lined up for tonight. Got the lotion out, got the computer fully charged, you know what it is…
You used to live with Ishod right? Why don’t you live together anymore?
Yeah shouts out to Ishod. Man, that nigga’s rent was high as fuck! I just couldn’t afford it. It was like a mansion, bro. The shit was so gangster. Like, if you brought any chick over it was a wrap. You didn’t have to say shit, they’d just be like, “OHHH, so many floors!” Like, there’s some balconies, fool had a pool table… It was the best crib I’ve ever lived in, but it was just too expensive. I couldn’t go on any skate trips and pay my rent. That just wouldn’t be an option.
Was Ishod a good roommate?
[Laughs] He was the best and worst roommate I’ve ever had. The best in terms of like, if I wanted to go skate, he was just constantly down. But worst because my nigga is a party animal, yo. He gets it poppin’, and I’m so introverted, so I would just lock myself in my room and shit while like he’s chillin’ with all of his homies. But it wasn’t even like a bad situation, I just couldn’t afford it.
Palace is working on a full length skate video right? Any updates?
I just went out to London two times over the summer for three weeks each time just filming for the video. I was tripping like, “Fuck, how am I going to get footage in this video if I live in Philadelphia?” I didn’t really even think that it was an option that I would go to London. Then these fools told me like, “Yo, we want you to have a part in the video. Come out and get as much footage as possible, eat all the chicken and Nando’s that you want, just get that footage.”
It seems like it’s about to be done. They don’t really have a set date or anything, but I know the deadline for footage is coming up in a month or so, so pretty much whatever I got on those two trips is going into that video.
It’s going to be one of the best videos. Just the way the footage looks, all London, all grey and sad on some Blueprint shit, just like the saddest skate video but actually upbeat as fuck.
Do you ever resell your Palace gear?
Nah, man. I should because I’m broke as fuck! But it just seems like a lot of work. I don’t have an eBay account or nothin’, and motherfuckers in Philly ain’t tryin’ to pay full price. I’d rather just rock that shit and just make the funniest outfits possible cause these niggas make the most outlandish gear. Just wear a full purple velour tracksuit.
Anyone on the team you think can’t pull off the shit Palace makes?
Oooh, I’mma say Danny Brady… That nigga Danny Brady got NO swag. He’s also the team manager, so I’m probably gonna get kicked off for saying that [laughs].
Is there anyone on the team you kick it with most?
Yeah, my man Chewy Cannon. Shout out to my nigga Chewy, yo. He smokes soooo much pot. Like yo, I couldn’t even hang with him, bro. I thought I smoked a lot, but I had to take off the crown and dub him Sir Smoke-A-Lot, cause he’s the king and he still produces so much classic footage. I don’t understand it at all. Any time I’m on a Palace trip, I’m always just kicking it with Chewy, mooching all of his weed and shit.
What’s the perfect tobacco to weed ratio for a spliff?
I’m rolling a spliff right now! I am currently using the original blend natural American Spirits. I would say 60% weed, 40% tobacco, just to keep the burn right. Plus, if you’re walking around in the city, you’re not blowing up the spot too bad because when I smoke straight weed, it’s always bad news. Cops are everywhere every time I burn downtown. Can’t be doing the 100% Palma Dutches anymore.
What’s the rolling paper of choice?
Oh, man, you already know I’m on that RAW tip. Shout out to RAW, yo. Give a nigga all the rolling trays and all that shit. I need all that, I love y’all…. If you don’t print this shit in there dawg, I’m gonna fuck you up so bad… Niggas need rolling trays out here, I’m still rolling up on records!
I see fools on Instagram getting the fattest RAW boxes and I’m just like, “What do I have to do?” I’ll do it. Do I have to diss OCB’s? I’ll do it, it’s nothing.
What corners of the Internet do you lurk the most?
I lurk Google images hella hard. I just go onto Google images and type random shit like sentences that don’t even make sense. Like, “FIFA concrete czar,” or something that’s not even a real word, and then I go to images and see what happens. Most of the time you find some fire, bro.
I found this one picture of a Gildan template of different shirts with a male model with a dumbass look on his face, and there’s like 13 of him, and they all have different color shirts with Korn logos on them. It’s the funniest shit ever. Like, who the fuck made this and why? This needs to be blown up.
You can find so much heat on Google images. But besides that, YouTube. I love YouTube. All the music that I’ve made, all the samples that I get have been from YouTube. All the random videos of cats… people fighting… G.G. Allin documentaries… it’s all on YouTube. You could be entertained for years. Lately I’ve been really into just watching commercials from the 80s. I don’t even know why, like who the fuck would willingly want to watch commercials? But they’re funny as fuck.
What’s the deepest corner of the web you’ve ever found yourself in?
Probably like some weird webcam porn. You just see some shit where it’s like “No, don’t do that! Don’t put that there!” Then it happens and then it’s in your brain forever.
Besides that, probably like Limp Bizkit merch. On eBay just looking up Limp Bizkit T-shirts. Bro, there’s so many good ones and they’re so expensive and I just find myself wanting to break my pockets. I just found this Limp Bizkit shirt with three shirtless Fred Dursts on it. Like full blown, just the complete front of the shirt has three shirtless Fred Dursts.
Did you get it?
Nah, nigga! That shit’s like $80! I’m tryna eat! But once I get into that corner, I’m thinking about it. I’m like, “Yo, I could just buy this and be broke for a couple of days… It doesn’t matter, you can do it. You love this Limp Bizkit shirt!” I’ve fucked myself up mentally… I can’t keep doing this internet shit.
October 6, 2016 4:33 pm
Jamal’s the best. Keep doing you
October 6, 2016 5:08 pm
yas this is the best interview
October 6, 2016 7:42 pm
anybody know his insta name dude is funny as fuck
October 6, 2016 10:36 pm
Forget Gary Rogers, the skateboard world needs Jamal Smiths opinion.
This guy is terrific.